I boarded the plane from LA to Auckland at 12:00 midnight on October 6th, tired and hoping to get at least semi-restful sleep on the 13 hour flight.  I had begun my travel earlier that day at 9:45 am when my mom drove me an hour to the bus stop in Lebanon, NH, which took me to Logan airport in Boston.  Already I had passed through three time zones and waited three hours in the LAX airport, and was now ready to fly even further ahead in time.  Fifteen minutes into the flight I began to doze after situating my pillow and fidgeting around in my seat trying to find a comfortable position. 

Some time later I heard the captain’s voice, as if in a dream, announcing that a bird collided with the airplane and we were flying in circles to let out fuel so we could land back in LA.  Too tired to make sense of it, I fell back asleep until I felt the jolt of landing and realized that we really were back on the ground in California.  The flight attendants passed out a written explanation to each customer, which stated that the impact of the bird affected the plane’s weather radar system.  How could a bird cause so much damage?  I was skeptical.  But back in the terminal the next day, a fellow traveler showed me a picture she took of the dent, and it was huge; I could even make out spots of blood left from the poor bird.  Well, I thought, at least we weren’t in the middle of the Pacific when this happened.  We finally took off at 1:00 pm on October 7th, and arrived in Auckland (after a bird-free flight) at 10:00 pm October 8. 

With the help of some other backpackers, Erin and I found a bus and made it to our hostel just before midnight, and I stretched out on my top bunk, smiling.  We’re really here.